Monday, September 10, 2012
Yanks Get A Little Breathing Room
It's September 10th and the Yankees can exhale for two reasons: they escaped Baltimore with a slim 1-game lead in AL East, and they have a day off. There's only one more of those left after today with 22 games remaining.
But winning the division is at a premium. Yes there's an extra Wild Card team, but for the first time since the inception of the Wild Card (1995), the scales have been heavily tilted to the division winner (as they should). As the two Wild Cards face-off in a one-game death match, the survivor's pitching staff and travel schedule will already be in disarray.
That's why the Yankees need to hang on to the division title they've almost given away. And there are good signs. A-Rod's bat looks like it's back and Joba Chamberlain may be reverting to form as that hammer coming out of the bullpen again.
Yesterday in Baltimore, the Yankees found themselves in a tie for first place with the Orioles in a September "must" game. Joba took over for a struggling Freddy Garcia in the 4th inning, and blew away 4 of the 6 O's batters he faced, holding a 5-3 lead, which led to a 13-3 rout.
It was a great rebound win after the disturbing events of Saturday night.
Mark Teixeira beat out a possible game-ending double play to drive in the tying run in the 9th. He slid head-first into 1st base (which you're taught never to do) because he blew out his calf just a few feet from the promised land.
Teixeira willed every ounce of his body after an injury that will keep him out a week or three to get that tying run home. Except umpire Jerry Meals called him out and the Yankees lost.
It was a terrible call in the closest of games in the closest of pennant races. That's why you can't leave it up to the umps. You need a margin for error, whether it be yours or somebody else's.
Call it a buffer, a cushion, breathing room.